In This Issue
Friday, Feb 14 * 7 pm
Crabtree Nature Center - 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills
Couples, friends and families celebrate Valentine's Day with hors d'oeuvres, animal encounters, campfire treats and a candlelit hike. $5/person. Ages 18 & up, dress for the weather. registration required; call 847-381-6592.
Winter Wellness
Saturday, Feb 22 * Noon-2 pm
Rolling Knolls - 11N260 Rohrssen Rd, Elgin
Don't let the cold weather get you down! Tune into nature with a guided meditation with staff from Elgin's Gail Borden Public Library. Registration required.  
Saturday, Feb 22 * 6 pm
Crabtree Nature Center - 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills
Join us along with the Northwest Suburban Astronomers as we scan the skies for celestial objects. Registration required; call 847-381-6592.

Saturday, Feb 29 * 10 am-1 pm
Mathew Bieszczat Volunteer Resource Center - 6100 N Central Ave, Chicago
Join us for a winter art workshop as we explore the beauty of nature through watercolor painting. Materials provided. All ages.


Saturday, Feb 8 * Noon-3 pm
Thatcher Woods Pavilion - Chicago Ave, west of Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Learn to navigate using new-found orienteering skills, make a craft using natural materials, track animals and learn photography skills.
Sunday, Feb 9 * 1 pm
Thatcher Woods Pavilion - Chicago Ave, west of Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Come play along or just listen at our indoor jam. Make a simple musical instrument or bring your own. All are welcome to these free events!
Sunday, Feb 23 * 1 pm
Trailside Museum of Natural History - 738 Thatcher Ave,
River Forest
Take a guided hike along the Des Plaines River to a site that was part of the Underground Railroad.
Thursday, Feb 20 *
10:30 am
Trailside Museum of Natural History - 738 Thatcher Ave,
River Forest
Enjoy nature-inspired stories followed by a craft. Children ages 3-6 w/adult.


Sunday, Feb 9 * 11 am-2 pm
Camp Bullfrog Lake - 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs
Enjoy the Forest Preserves on snowshoes! Conditions permitting; 4" of hard snow required.


Saturday, Feb 15 * 10 am
Sauk Trail Woods-Central - Forest Preserve Dr, south of W 26th St, South Chicago Heights
Fitness hikes are for those looking to get some exercise outdoors. Fitness hikes will be faster paced with little to no stopping or interpretation. Total distance: 3.4 miles.
Hike the Preserves:
Walk & Talk
Saturday, Feb 15 * 10 am
Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center - S Western Ave & W 87th St, Chicago  
Walk & Talk hikes are for those who want to know more about the Forest Preserves and natural areas. These hikes will be led at a slower pace with frequent stopping and interpretation. Total distance: 2 miles.
Saturday, Feb 15 * 10 am
Sand Ridge Nature Center - 15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland
Join Kim Ruffin, educator and Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, for an interactive presentation and Q&A session that explores the pivotal role of nature in the lives of African-Americans, both past and present. The presentation will be followed by a brief indoor Forest Therapy activity.
Saturday, Feb 22 * 10 am-Noon
Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion - W 87th St & S Western Ave, Chicago
Learn the history of food canning, make and take home giardiniera. In partnership with Urban Growers Collaborative. Registration required; call 708-386-4042.
Saturday, Feb 22 * Hikes at 11 am & 2 pm
Sand Ridge Nature Center - 15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland
Join us on a narrated journey that follows the Underground Railroad route in the Calumet Region during the mid-1800s.

For details and a full event listing including all regular events at our six nature centers,  visit our Events page .
Public Information Meeting: Des Plaines Trail Improvements
Wednesday, Feb 19 * 4-7 pm; Franklin Park Police Department - 9451 Belmont Ave, Franklin Ave

The Des Plaines River Trail Advisory Group and the Forest Preserves of Cook County will present existing conditions and the need for trail improvements, proposed trail alternatives and evaluation results, and seek public input regarding the project. The meeting will be conducted in an open house format. Attendees can review exhibits, provide comments and meet with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Trail Advisory Group members and consultant representatives on a one-on-one basis.

Show Your Love With A Tribute Gift
Making a tribute gift is a perfect way to express your love for someone special--or a favorite spot in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Through the Forest Preserve Foundation, you can adopt a bench or tree that will be there to enjoy for years to come.  Read how Ben and Kate Julian chose a beloved location-and why.


by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is owned by the taxpayers. Our communities are incredibly diverse, encompassing people of all backgrounds and heritages. It is our responsibility to be inclusive and welcoming to all--a commitment we at the Forest Preserves take seriously. With February marking Black History Month, I wanted to touch on some of the ways the Forest Preserves is working on addressing racial equity and expanding our connections across Cook County. 
Last year, we opened a new nature play area and exercise stairs at Dan Ryan Woods on Chicago's South Side, the latest new amenities in $3.5 million of improvements since 2013 at this site. 
We are creating a "Sand Ridge Campus" in suburban South Holland that will reimagine Sand Ridge Nature Center as a place to learn about local ecosystems and local history. New signs, trails, programs and projects will link the nature center, Camp Shabbona Woods, Green Lake Family Aquatic Center, and the adjacent nature preserve into a unified experience for visitors. 
After building a new canoe and kayak launch in west suburban Maywood Grove in 2018, we started the Greater Maywood Paddling Program, which teaches leaders of local organizations how to lead a group kayak trip on the Des Plaines River.  
For the last couple years, Forest Preserves staff have worked with more than a dozen community and civic organizations in Altgeld Gardens and other South Side neighborhoods in our Better Beaubien initiative. It's helped us launch new events at Beaubien Woods, bring out more residents to the site, and even started a native planting program last year with seniors living in Chicago Housing Authority housing. 
From what we've learned at Beaubien Woods, the Forest Preserves began a new effort to hold more events and activities created and led by local groups, making the Preserves a vital resource for their community. Proposals are welcome from any part of Cook County, and the Preserves is particularly targeting its outreach in the South and West sides of Chicago and the South suburbs. 
Addressing equity is not a simple task or one that will be complete in years or even decades. The Forest Preserves is in the fight for the long haul. Last year, the employee Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee began its work to promote a work culture that embraces diversity and is inclusive and welcoming to all Forest Preserves employees, visitors and partners. 
We talk in this newsletter about how the Forest Preserves are great place to connect with nature, get exercise, spend time with friends and family, and so much more. Everyone benefits when everyone has a real opportunity to be involved in what the Forest Preserves offers Cook County. 
We hope to see you in your Forest Preserves! 
Toni Preckwinkle, President 
Icy conditions, snow flurries and chilly temperatures didn't stop more than 70 people from coming together at Dan Ryan Woods on Chicago's South Side for a day of service in honor of the late Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. 
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was big on giving back to his community, providing service to people and wanted to encourage folks to do the same," Forest Preserves Outreach Program Coordinator Credell Walls said. "A great part about the restoration work is that participants can give back to their forest preserve community, helping people feel safe in the preserves and ensuring plants and animals have healthy habitats so they may thrive." 
Photo by US Forest Service - Southern Region
With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, many people are thinking about love. And just like how preferences and attractions differ among people, the way Cook County's native wildlife experience romance varies greatly, too.
From special calls and dances to finding a forever partner, check out this piece for quick facts about mating and reproduction for some common species found in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

If you sell a commodity or service, you may find a market in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. We encourage minority and women-owned business participation. Visit our Doing Business & Partnerships Page to view current bidding opportunities, register as a vendor, learn about concession opportunities or how to become a certified Minority Business Enterprise/Women Business Enterprise. 
Photo by Keith Shannon/USFWS
You might not think bats prefer the towering skyscrapers of Chicago to the open spaces of the suburbs, but recent studies show there are larger bat populations in the city.
Forest Preserves biologists and ecologists have been participating in a long-running bat study in Cook County, analyzing population trends in part to assess habitat quality. 

Photo by Kris DaPra.
Show your Forest Preserves some love this month and join in on restoration activities. Volunteering is fun and meaningful, and lets you to get exercise outdoors while meeting new people. There are opportunities throughout the county for people of all ages and experience levels.    
The February photo of the month, "Red-headed Woodpecker," was taken by Ben Julian at Turnbull Woods in April 2019. Did you know? Red-headed woodpeckers ( Melanerpes eryrocephalus) hide nuts, seeds and other food in cracks in wood. They've been known to store live grasshoppers and even use roof shingles as a hiding place. Want to learn more about native birds and other wildlife? Visit one of the Forest Preserves' six nature centers. Visit our Nature Center Page to find the locations nearest you.